CSW: Technology and Gender Equality in Myanmar

Statement by MFA State Secretary Bjørg Sandkjær at the CSW67 side-event 'Using Technology to Promote Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Myanmar', 6 March 2023.

The side-event was organized by the Gender Equality Network (GEN) Myanmar, Women Advocacy Coaliton-Myanmar (WAC-M), UN Women, the UN Missions of Norway and Spain, and co-sponsored by Sweden.

Dear Colleagues, thank you for joining us here today, and prioritising this side-event in a very busy week. I also wish to thank our co-hosts for helping us pull together this important event.

We are deeply disturbed by the situation in Myanmar - the worsening humanitarian crisis, the widespread human rights violations and abuses, and the indiscriminate use of military force against civilians. Well over one million people have been displaced since the coup. 200 000 of whom are children.

This is why Norway fully supports all efforts, from the United Nations, ASEAN and the UNSG Special Envoys, to deliver necessary humanitarian assistance, and to implement the Five Point Consensus and UN Security Council Resolution 2669.

Strengthening women’s rights, including their equal right to participation and necessary protection, have been core priorities of our work in Myanmar.
UN Women have been a crucial partner for us in delivering on these ambitious goals since 2016.

The military coup has reversed a decade of progress, and puts women and girls at tremendous risk. The regime deliberately targets female civil disobedience movement members, arbitrarily detains thousands of women, and systematically employs gender-based violence. Alarming reports indicate that several hundred women have been tortured to death during interrogations. The numbers are just shocking.

Yet we remain hopeful. Despite a challenging and dangerous situation, we have seen you - as representatives for women’s groups - continue to do whatever you can, sparing no effort.

You are present, and you amplify the voices of many who must remain hidden. You are fully invested in Myanmar’s democratic nation building process.

Norway recognises that women’s networks and civil society are vital stakeholders in Myanmar. You’re inclusion is key to move towards a democratic transition in Myanmar. I am very impressed by your courage.

And on the matter of inclusion,  we commend Indonesia’s approach as Chair of ASEAN, to open dialogue with the democratic opposition, including civil society, political and ethnic actors under the NUCC-umbrella.

Norway has been a strong supporter of democratisation and human rights in Myanmar for many years.  We are committed to continue this work, even through the extremely challenging conditions for our partners on the ground.

We are all aware of the intense pressure women’s groups now face; and which have been exacerbated by new registration laws for civil society groups from the military.

So your views and advice on how Norway, and the international community, can continue our support and engagement with women human rights defenders and women’s groups are truly valuable. We look forward to hearing them today.